yet another sad lily beetle story

cnid(z5b Ont Canada)July 18, 2007

Well, I finally have them. And wow. Wow. It is just almost beyond describing. I am in the middle of nowhere and only buy lily bulbs (not plants) but they found me. I wonder if they are flying in because it is just never ending. I spotted one or 2 last year (and proudly killed them) but there are literally hundreds this year. I have hundreds of lilies so those little buggers really found lily beetle nirvana.

I am not squeamish but have had to resort to squishing methods I never never thought I would be able to do. The plants are so crowded that I have to kill 'em where I see 'em or they get away. I am good at catching them - they fall into my hand, the little fools!

One of the saddest things is that I can hardly see my garden. I looked at a post last night where someone said they can't stand to look at their lilies anymore. I feel a bit like that and it is so sad because lilies and daylilies are my top/fave plants. But I also find that I walk through my garden and as soon as I spot one (which is every time), I focus so closely on the leaves that I can't see the flowers or the garden as a whole. I was shocked to see that some plants were blooming long enough to be ready to dead head - I did not even notice despite walking past many times. I also get SO angry because I sometimes break buds off (about 6 off a day lily this morning) in my 'eagerness' to kill 'em where I see 'em.

Are people giving up on lilies because of this?

I did another net search last night - seems like anything that will work is either a nasty poison that kills everything, even good bugs, OR you have to get so close to spray them that you might as well squish them. One thing I learned - they love fritillaria so that was my signal plant this spring. Killed tons early on when it was easier - but they keep coming. One other thing that seemed to help a bit - I spread composted sheep manure (1-2 inches) on some beds last fall. I did not find ANY on those beds in spring but they were in all the other beds around there that got no compost. Maybe that helped keep them down? I am going to do all the beds this year and see. Was thinking of starting some lilies early in pots and putting them out as bait plants early on to try to lure the creepy buggers out so I can squish them. (One article said they make a squeaking sound to ward of predators - all I have heard so far is a certain crunching sound and some cursing - oh wait that was me. I am losing it...)

Thanks for listening.

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angelonia_anne(z5NY)

HELP! Red Beetles eating my lilies. Is that the pest you are talking about? The beetles are a very pretty red, but are very destructive! Never saw them before this year, is it some new imported non-native species?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:35AM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Search "lily beetle" on this forum for lots of helpful information. That is what I am talking about. They are relentless!

C

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 4:08PM
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winnie13(ma)

yes, those little bugs are nasty,,,gosh they ate all my lilies this year, my lilies have a ton of blooms, but they ate them within minutes.. last year there were no bugs ,, what is it with this year, everyones lilies are invaded by red bugs..yuck... i dug up all my lilies already. so sad..
i was worry the bugs will bite my dog....no choice the dog or the lilies,,, >;\

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:24PM
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nancyd(5/Rochester, NY)

It's pretty frustrating. I had nowhere near as many as I have this year and they don't stop coming. As soon as a lily has bloomed I cut the entire stalk off so as to limit their food sources. My lily garden is right next to my pond, so I have to be very careful what I spray. My evil little delight is to pick them off and throw them in the pond for my fish to eat. I hope they do scream!

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Lily Leaf Beetle

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 3:49PM
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ilovepoco(z5 Boston USA)

Is it just me or is anyone else experiencing a marked drop in lily leaf beetles this year?

I'm located near Boston MA (the beetles were first reported just outside of Boston several years ago and have been spreading since then.) I recall reading that some biological control (wasp or something?) was being released in selected areas in MA on a test basis to see if the beetle population could be controlled. I was not expecting to see any immediate benefits from this experimental program.

BUT!!! In previous years, they were relentless, and I basically just let the plants go. Even the Black Beauty lilies were hit hard, though they are supposed to be very unappealing to the bugs. Now I have just one big clump of Black Beauties remaining, and while I noticed 1-2 beetles back in June, I haven't see one since, the plants are huge, blooming their heads off, and the leaves are virtually undamaged.

It was a complete and wonderful surprise not to have to go through the lily beetle devastation this year.

Maybe I just got lucky.

Susan

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 1:54PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

So sorry to hear about your plight Cnid. I have 'almost' been there. This pest has been imported to Canada and has no natural predators, so it is having a field-day. There have been efforts to import a predator, and that is probably what has happened in Susan's area. But I did get some very helpful dirctions while attending a flower show at a local college. The eggs/larvae whatever live in the earth over winter. That's why you had less where you had mulched. I was told ,and it works, that in spring, just when the buds of your lilies and starting to come up, spray the buds and the earth all around with a 10% solution of household ammonia. The ammonia will not hurt your plants, but it kills of the young 'uns and you have only the odd one to deal with as the summer goes on. I usually stir up the earth so the ammonia can do its thing. I did not get around to doing it this year, and it was worse than usual in my main lily area, but I did not lose anything. I usually do the squish. Those who are squeamish may try flicking them off into a bowl of soapy water. I guess we just have to wait until the predator finds its way to Canada.
Northerner.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 3:37AM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Bad news, Northerner - I am in Canada and I have them bad. Still coming and coming, so must be flying in, but from where, I can't imagine.

I notice one bug in the garden is often trying to kill the lilies beetles and is also eating the larvae. I don't know insects well - it is a brown and grey bug that is kind of triangle shaped. You go, bug!

The beetles have mostly left the species-type lilies alone (Black Beauty, Henryi) but have really wrecked the asiatics. Pardalinum demolished. Orientals not as bad but not good. The asiatics will be small next year.

Will try the ammonia thing. I am going to use the neem spray as well (there was another thread about that on this forum - a [Canadian] gardener outlined an elaborate prevention program).

Waaaaayy past the squeamish factor. I prefer to squish them against a rock but will do it between my fingers (it is SO gross).

Ilovepoco - do you think you just had fewer beetles because you don't have much for them to eat?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 12:57PM
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ilovepoco(z5 Boston USA)

cnid asked: do you think you just had fewer beetles because you don't have much for them to eat?

No. I've never had many lilies, just a clump or two here and there. For the past 3-4 years, each isolated clump has just been demolished. Like, at any time 20-30-40 beetles visible up and down the plants. This year, like I said, just 1 or 2. Squished them, and never saw any more. It wasn't until I saw the plants blooming like crazy that I went over to take a closer look and saw that there was virtually NO damage.

Can't explain it, I'm just thankful :o)

Susan

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 12:19PM
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cnid(z5b Ont Canada)

Wow, no kidding! I would be grateful too! I will hope for similar 'miracle'!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 9:16AM
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